Ella’s pups have begun to explore the outdoor portion of the Oregon Zoo’s African painted dog habitat, but only for short periods and not according to a set schedule, animal-care staff said.
The new mom and her playful pups, which number about a dozen, enjoyed some outside time this morning, taking advantage of the dry weather to get acquainted with their new space.
Keepers say the pups might be out from time to time now, weather (and parents) permitting — and they’ll be hard to miss by spring, once they’re a little bigger and temperatures have started to rise.
“Visitors might catch glimpses of the pups in the coming weeks, but all the conditions need to be right,” said Becca Van Beek, who oversees the zoo’s Africa area. “They’ve had outdoor access this entire time, but the pups are more mobile now, so it’s really just up to their parents and the weather.”
The pups were born in early November and have been eating, sleeping and growing in a private maternity den ever since. This litter is the first offspring for Ella and the pups’ father, Juma, and the first of this endangered species to be born at the Oregon Zoo.
According to Van Beek, the pups have already begun eating some solid food. They usually wean at around this age, so it won’t be long before Ella’s litter is eating regularly with the rest of the pack.
Animal-care staff have taken a mostly hands-off approach, giving the new family a comfortable place to bond, but are closely monitoring the litter to make sure everything is going well. The pups’ first veterinary checkup will be in a couple of weeks.
“Ella has been a great mom,” Van Beek said. “She’s very attentive but also has been taking some short nap-breaks away from the pups, which is important for her own health and well-being.”
African painted dogs are listed as Endangered by the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Ella, Brie and Juma came to the Oregon Zoo in 2017 based on a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for African painted dogs. Juma, the pups’ father, came from the Oklahoma City Zoo, and Ella and her sister Brie came from the Cincinnati Zoo.
The AZA has established Species Survival Plans for many threatened or endangered species — cooperative breeding programs that help create genetically diverse, self-sustaining populations to guarantee the long-term future of animals. These SSPs also support relevant field projects, research and public education to help prevent animal endangerment and extinction.
Source: Oregon Zoo